As the founding chairman of the DAP Chinese education committee, Kok Kit was in the very forefront in all the battles waged in the past three decades in the defence and advancement of mother-tongue education, most notably the great issues and controversies concerning the Merdeka University, Aziz Education Report, the preservation of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and Chinese primary schools, in particular in opposing and demanding the repeal of the infamous Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act.
Kok Kit, together with the founding secretary of the DAP Chinese education committee, Chian Heng Kai, were “rewarded” with four years and nine months of detention without trial under the Internal Security Act for their services. The Malaysian people, however, showed their great appreciation to these two warriors for Chinese education and a Malaysian Malaysia when they were given the people’s mandate to continue to take the cause to Parliament. Kok Kit was elected MP for Sungei Besi in the 1978 general election while in detention, winning with the biggest-ever majority of 33,687 votes.
The best way to pay tribute to Kok Kit is for us to ensure that although he is no longer with us physically, his spirit is forever with us to keep battling for the cause of Chinese education and a Malaysian Malaysia.
This is particularly pertinent and poignant in the present times when mother-tongue education as a whole and Chinese education in particular are facing new challenges as illustrated by the still-unresolved three-month Damansara Chinese primary school controversy and the DAP demand for a New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
Last month, former MCA Minister and now MCA
Central Education Bureau chief, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh hailed the Cabinet
meeting of 21st February 2001 as a "historic breakthrough for the future
of Chinese education" in Malaysia for two reasons:
DAP has called for a New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education which includes the building of 250 new Chinese primary schools in the five years 2001-2005 under the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
Is the demand for 250 new Chinese primary schools excessive, unreasonable or extremist?
I was very angry today when someone alleged that to ask for the building of 250 Chinese new primary schools under the Eighth Malaysia Plan was going against the Malaysian Constitution as well as the Barisan Alternative common manifesto of “Towards A Just Malaysia”.
A New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan building
250 new Chinese primary schools in the next five years is fully in
keeping with both the spirit and letter of the Malaysian Constitution and
the Barisan Alternative common manifesto of “Towards A Just Malaysia” -
which is to build a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious
Malaysia. It is also a most reasonable demand for the following reasons:
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced a RM3 billion economic stimulus package of "pre-emptive measures” to sustain the country's growth momentum in the face of a slowdown of the United States economy, and among the new projects identified for immediate implementation are 200 single session schools.
On the occasion of paying tribute to Kok Kit’s life-long dedication and sacrifices for the cause of Chinese education and a Malaysian Malaysia, and in perpetuation of both his memory and spirit, I call on the Cabinet to ensure that 20 of the 200 single session schools to be immediately built under the RM3 billion economic stimulus package should be Chinese primary schools.
In his 2001 budget speech in Parliament last October, Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin had announced the building of 167 new primary schools and 120 new secondary schools.
The Education Ministry has not revealed that there would be a single new Chinese primary school out of the 167 new primary schools to be built this year. It is therefore not unreasonable, excessive or extremist to ask that 20 of the 200 single session sessions to be built under the economic stimulus package announced on Tuesday should be new Chinese primary schools.